Backwards and Forwards

“Time takes it all whether you want it to or not, time takes it all. Time bares it away, and in the end there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again.”

-Stephen King, The Green Mile

In my email inbox, I’ve carefully organized and saved just about every email from anyone who was important to me. When things were rough, or I’d be stressed out, I would look back at the great things we did, the funny things we said and how smart and interesting we were that one time.

I used to take comfort in looking back.

I haven’t looked back in awhile.

There is a line the was drawn on July 17 at 2:10 p.m. that clearly deliniates “before” and “after.”

I’m living in the after. And that before life, whatever that was…doesn’t even feel real any more.

Lately, I’ve had the strangest feeling that I’m rebuilding who I am. What my relationship is, what I like, what I love, and what I hate.

Its been a pleasant surprise to return to things that I’d forgotten about and discover they still give me joy.

There have been other things that I loved, and loved deeply, that no longer make me feel in the same, strong, passionate, way.

I wish I could say I’ve become fiercer or braver. I wish I could say the person I’m evolving into possess those traits.

Instead…I think she’s more careful. Despite my writing all my thoughts here, she’s also more private. Not that I don’t want to share…but I feel like when I do its false to speak the words out loud. These feelings are inside me, and if I can’t give them a name, they’re not ready to be outside yet.

When something joyful has happened, I’ve thrown myself, full force, into that joy. Whether its mine or someone else’s good news. I want to taste that sunshine drop of impossible sweetness.

But oh how terrible it has been not to trust it.

Its like being told being excited for a gift and opening it, only to find, the person who bought it for you didn’t know you at all. And it hurts all the more because you trusted them to understand and what they gave you clearly shows that they didn’t.

It hurts, because you love them and you don’t want to hurt them, but it also hurts because the gift you’ve opened was not only not what you wanted…but it makes you feel like they didn’t care enough to figure you out. It makes you feel small and unimportant.

So now, I’m trying to figure out exactly how it is I want to bring the joy back and what gives me joy. There is still a looming stressor of completeing our house sale, and trying to budget. So I can’t quite see myself out of the woods, but its getting lighter.

But it has been almost 2 years of constant sorrow and stress. I think of what a balm it will be to not wake up and having a death looming over my family. How glorious it will be to not be selling a house and scheduling repairs and running back and forth.

I won’t know what to do.

I guess I’ll figure it out…

-C

Moving on up, out, and onward

“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.”
Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

We have moved.

That is, to say, my husband, dog, and I have moved to a new neighborhood.

It is supposed to perfect.  Land of milk and honey.

Instead, it has been land of:

being carjacked

getting fired

getting screamed at by our crazy neighbors

land of panic attacks

land of hiding inside because we are just so dang TIRED of all of it.

So here we are.

In a great house.

In a great neighborhood.

Where if I could figure out how to take someone whose communication style can only be described as “loud” and make them understanding, I feel I could bring about peace in the middle east.

There is no sympathy.

There is no empathy.

There is no understanding.

I have hidden from this journal, friends, because written what I feel hurts too damn much.

Writing what I feel breaks my heart.

I don’t think of myself as a coward, but here, here after all we’ve been through, I want to build a pillow fort under our dining room table and drink bourbon til I pass out.

Which was last birthday, helpfully dubbed The Manhattan Project, and I won’t be trying that again, thank you.

The only reason I’m writing right now is I’m 3 gin and tonics in and I’m just so tired.

I can’t even ask for help any more.  How could anyone help?  How can you help someone who day in and day out feels their life slowly falling through their fingers. How do you help someone who got their husband a dog to help him through depression and now that dog is the reason for THEIR depression?  How do you help someone who just wants SOMEONE to understand that, right now, they CAN’T be happy, they CAN’T help you, they CAN’T host you they CAN’T do anything except shower, put on make-up, and go to work and pretend everything is ok.

Everything is NOT ok.

It is not ok to feel like this.  I’m not going to hurt myself.  That sort of thing is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  But some days…

Some days I just want to run away.  I want to hide.  I’m TIRED of facing my troubles head on and coping.  I’m tried of making everything think I’m ok.

And there are a few people…very few…

who see through the facade.

And they ask.

And I tell them to go away.

I don’t call them. I don’t write. I don’t email. I don’t talk.  Because they know.

They know, just by looking at me.

That it hurts.

It hurts too much.

And I can’t talk to them because when they see…

I break down.

I can’t afford to break down.  I can’t afford to lose it all right now.

So I have stolen moments in the night.

I go in the bathroom and cry.

I go downstairs and I cry.

I wait 5 minutes before I go in the house and cry.

I hide in the car and cry.

Because my husband…

he could have died.

It is 2 months after the fact.

After someone put a gun in his face.

And we keep going through our day, as though it hasn’t changed us.

“You know, I always thought it’d be cancer.  Never though it could be at the end of a gun.”

And we laugh, and grow quiet.

Because it could have been at the end of a gun.  A man, who doesn’t do anything more dangerous than play video games.  Could have died.

For the sake of a car. A cell phone. And a laptop.

Now I want to take risks.  And I know its not safe.

I want to sky dive.

I want to do things that I’d never normally do.

Because any moment could be our end.

And this should empower me to yell back to our neighbors.  It should empower me to be braver and smarter and more alive.

But there’s still the fort under the table.

There’s still the safety of the bed.

And it is EVERYTHING i can do to not crawl back under there.

This is why you should be kind.  To everyone you see, everyone you interact with.  You should be kind.

Because they could be falling apart.

And you’d never know.

-C

2014, we hardly knew ye

I was going to do a big long thing about 2014, its devastation rolling over the land like landslide full of plague rat zombies coming for your face.

But no.

I’m not going to let 2014 end like this.

2014 started with my breaking my thumb and ended 2 deaths, several hospital visits, and countless setbacks later.

You know what 2014?

Screw you.  I’m gonna party you out like its your fricken wake.

So, instead, 2014, a eulogy.

Dear friends,

We are gathered together to bid farewell to 2014.  As we usually do at the close of someone’s life, we try to look back on the things that were wonderful about them.  Sure, they were a jerk at parties and ruined your time.

Sure 2014 overstayed their welcome.

But lets remember that great things about 2014.  Because nothing, in a set of 365 days, can be all bad.

So 2014, you were a jerk.  You brought despair and sadness, setbacks and difficulties, pain and sorrow.

But you also brought the most amazing Standing Rib Roast I’ve ever made.  You brought me Guardians of the Galaxy, the best(most fun) space movie since Star Wars.  You showed me that I still have great photography skills, creativity, and can sew a mean River Song cosplay dress.

You brought changes I wasn’t ready for and didn’t give me change I desperately wanted.

But you were still there.  Which, I guess is what friends are for.  So 2014, instead of mourning you, with sorrow and gnashing of teeth…I raise my glass to you.

You were one hell of a year.

2015, my friend?  Learn from your siblings’ mistakes.  Let’s make tomorrow something we’ll be proud of next time this year.

-C

November Thankfulness…a start

First post of November…and its November 11th…

I was going to spend the month of November writing about things I’m thankful for.

Then my Oma got worse.

My car died.

Twice.

And I found it hard to be thankful.

But today, I’m going to try again.

Today I am thankful for tea.

I’m thankful for friends helping me learn the importance of taking a break with a cup of tea.

Of the process of making, steeping, and drink it, which takes longer than you’d think, but is worth it.

I’m thankful for flavors and thankful for the accessories and the peace sitting down and making a cup affords you.

I’m thankful for lots of big things, of friends, and love, and family.

But today, I’m thankful for the peace that I find in a steaming cup that is fragrant with fruit and herbs.

It is small.  But today its enough.

-C

Fear the First: Moths

I am the terror that flaps in the night.

-Darkwing Duck

When I was a junior in high school, I was a part of a theatre group for kids in their early teens to early twenties.  We’d cast, director, costume, stage and perform a play.  It was pretty darn cool.  For someone who wasn’t very popular in their own high school, the novelty of suddenly being one of the cool kids, even in a group that maybe, from the outside, wasn’t actually cool…was pretty great.

That summer was one of the first where I started adventuring at night.  I’d found a group of other teens, they had cars and licenses and, after rehearsal, we’d stay out and go to 24 hours restaurants, tease, flirt, and generally be teenagers.  It was fantastic.  There’s just something wonderful about being out at nighttime in the summer, when you’re young.

This particular evening, we went to Perkins.  I remember sitting at the end of a bunch of tables we’d all smushed togther and throwing straw wrappers and nibbling on the edges of a bread bowl.  It was was about 11:30 or so when we finally decided to pack up.

I’d ridden with a guy who was going to be joining the army at the end of the summer, someone who, I’d imagine, would be good in an emergency.  Someone, also, who gestured kind of wildly…so as we left Perkins, into the warm, summer night air, we walked past the lights outside the restaurant.

And a moth, with a death wish, dive bombed him.

He backhanded it, and in a moment that I wish there was instant replay for…it went INTO my ear.

I would be hard pressed to come up with something that feels more awful than a foreign, living, creature suddenly inside a bodily orifice.

I started screaming.

And Mr. Army Guy?  He stood there looking at me like I was crazy.  And that he didn’t know what to do.  As luck would have it, the rest of my cast mates started filing out of the restaurant.  One girl sees me, bent over, pulling at my ear and asks me what’s wrong.  I whimper “I have moth stuck in my ear.”

So she runs into the restaurant, and I can hear her yelling “Does anyone here have tweezers? C has a moth stuck in here ear.”

Ahhh, the humiliation just continues…fantastic.

Now the director has emerged.  She’s fairly capable and good in a crisis.  So she pulls me to the light.  Some idiot makes a joke about the moth seeing the light on the other side of my head and crawling out my other ear.

Despite the fluttering distraction in my head, I contemplate his murder.

She starts pulled on the earlobe and blowing into my ear.  With every pull I feel the fluttering and it is awful.

Now I’m envisioning going to the emergency room and trying to explain it.

An older lady walks past and asks “Is she having a seizure?”

I again contemplate murder.  I also briefly wonder if moths have inherent murderous tendencies.

After what seems like hours, the director has a good pull and somehow, the moth is pulled from my ear.

That’s when I really start sobbing.  The moment is past, but it still feels like something is there, maybe just the memory of it.  They bundle me up in a car and take me home.

I walk in the house, still crying, a mess and my parents are rightly concerned and ask me “Sweetie, what happened?!”

And, gulping from breath I say “…walked out of Perkins…lights…moth stuck in my ear…”

There’s a long pause.

And my loving parents burst out laughing.

After they calm down, my mom runs a bubble bath for me, with her fancy, special bubble bath that looks like champagne.  I settle in…and idly rub my ear…

and grey dust comes out.

From the moth’s wings.

There is no amount of scrubbing in the world that will get rid of it.

I’m like Lady Freaking McBeth…out, out, damn moth dust.

So I get out of the bath, and I’m crying again and my mom gives me a sympathetic hug and says I’ll feel better once I go to bed.

I cannot sleep on my left side because every time I move my head on the pillow it sounds like the moth is in my ear.

And that is why I hate moths.

And also, why, in the middle of summer I carry earmuffs in my car.

You can never be too careful.

-C

The End of the Challenge

Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
The battle’s done,
And we kind of won
So we sound our victory cheer

-Once More With Feeling: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Music Where Do We Go From Here

Beginnings are much easier than endings.  I cannot tell you how many short stories I have started, only to get a few pages in…and stop.  I can start anything.  Ending it, though…its hard to have a good ending.  You want people to walk away feeling satisfied, having learned something, found the lesson…gotten their happy end.

I set out September 1 with a goal of trying to bring focus back into my life.  To do so, I set aside some challenges for myself…some serious…some not so serious.  For the last month I have made my bed every day (I do not get this…but I made it without thinking about it this morning…so who knows?  Maybe its not so much that you feel good, but you just manage to develop a good habit.) I’ve cleaned and packed more boxes, been more conscious about exercise (lost 5 lbs, still can’t spell “exercise”), set aside a little more money in savings…all in all…I followed the rules of the challenge, if not to the letter, true to the spirit in which it was sent.

These things did not make me happy.

They didn’t make me function better.

They made for a cleaner house and a more organized life…so…I suppose it did make things easier…

What really worked, though, what was most necessary, and, perhaps, the change I needed to make…is two fold.

First, I need to write every day.  It has been too long since I sat down and poured my heart out into writing.  This space is my confessional, my fantasies, my thoughts, my dreams…all in one spot.  Writing things down here, gets them out of my head and helps me not to dwell on something.  It also has served to show me that, even if I say nothing is wrong, if I use the dreaded word “Fine.” to describe how I’m feeling…I can’t really lie to myself.  And I can’t lie here.  My own words, my own pain, confronts me and it says “Being unhappy is ok, but at least be honest.”

Secondly, a month of anything isn’t going to fix every problem you have.  Things are still difficult.  We still haven’t even had a nibble on our house, problems seem to keep piling up around us.  I’m still more depressed and unfocused than I’ve ever been.

This all sounds really down…but it isn’t…because I learned a lot this month.

I learned to speak up when something hurt.

I learned that making your bed for a month seems like a futile action, but the dog will sure appreciate laying on your nice sheets.

I learned that weddings are the happiest and saddest events you’ll ever attend.

I learned you can be there for someone, without actually physically being there.

I learned that every crisis is not my own crisis.

I learned that just because you get older, doesn’t mean you grow up, doesn’t mean you have all the answers, or that you can fix everyone’s problems.

I learned that, even if you think pushing someone away is the right idea, you should probably try to keep them close…even if its hard.

I learned that you can still miss someone like it was yesterday, even if its been a decade.

I learned that paleo egg cups are delicious and I should make them more often.

And I learned that there are some friends who, when they see you suffering through challenges…

they decide to make their bed every morning, too.

They decide to do healthy lunches with you.

They decide to be your cheerleaders.

They read your blog every day.  And call you and check on you, and ask how you’re doing.

I have spent much of this month being wrapped up in my own pain.  Sometimes, it was like a dark cloud hanging over my head…and reading things about lost loves, and longings, and trials…it hurt my heart too much to even read them.

So.  This challenge is over.  I set out what I meant to accomplish, and I accomplished it.  Not for any pints of ice cream, not for any physical prize (though, if anyone wants to send me a prize for making my bed every day, I will quite happily accept.), but because I set out to do something, and I did it.

That is accomplishment enough.

And I’m going to keep writing.  That’s where I go from here.  I’ll write more things that hurt, more things that challenge me, more things that make me happy and more things that make me sad.

But I’m going to be honest.  That’s where the best stuff comes from.

To you, my friends, who read this every day for the challenge, I thank you.  You don’t know what it means to me to know you care.  And I’ll try and be a better friend.

One of my friends reminded me of something I said earlier this month “You talked about how its easy to say you’d make some grand gesture of friendship or love or sacrifice…and you said how its easy to say that you’d do that…but there’s no room for grand gestures in this world any more.  Instead…you make the small gestures…and in that…I guess you’re a hero.

I will be a hero of small gestures.  I’ll be a hero of little words and actions.  And the first thing a hero faces…after leaving home on the journey…is their fears.

So as we head into October, I will talk about scary things…and funny things.  Horror and comedy are sides of the same coin, you know.  I’ll tell funny stories of moments where I was afraid…and scary stories…and things that frighten you in the night…and why I’ve overcome them.  And why I’m still afraid.

Stock up on apple cider, make sure your cobwebs are artfully arranged in the dark and dusky corners of your home.  Scour your brain for all those secret fears.  We’ll talk about them here and in the night…perhaps we’ll find there’s less to be afraid of than we thought before.

Love,

-C

“When we hold each other, in the darkness, it doesn’t make the darkness go away. The bad things are still out there. The nightmares still walking. When we hold each other we feel not safe, but better. “It’s all right” we whisper, “I’m here, I love you.” and we lie: “I’ll never leave you.” For just a moment or two the darkness doesn’t seem so bad.” 

― Neil Gaiman

Day 28: Changes

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.”
― Gilda Radner

How many of your friends have you kept?

1? 2?  Maybe 3-4?

Why did you keep them?  Was it because of how they talked to you?  How you laughed when you were together?  Because of their strength?  How they challenged you?

Or how they changed you?

One of my friends uses the phrase “The struggle is real.”  So I’ve picked it up.  And its hilarious, when used in an appropriate ironic context. (first world problems, etc…)  And I listen…and I hear it spread across the office…and its like listening to a friendship form.  Your friends add words to your vocabulary, phrases to your life, and adventure.

If you have found a good friend, you will not remain unchanged.  A good friend will challenge you when you’re wrong.  A good friend will be there to pick you up when you’re down, or if you don’t think you can ever get up again.  A good friend will, in your moment of despair, make you eat your dinner…make you go for a walk…tell you that one thing you never knew you needed to hear.

They’ll say it.  And you’ll sigh and be happy because finally someone understood.  They got it.  They knew WHY you needed to hear something.  They know the difference between “You look hot” and “You look beautiful.”  Between “You’re a good friend” and “You’re my best friend.”

With the best of friends, time, distance, they don’t matter.  They’ll find their way back to you.  Friends don’t leave another friend behind.  You are better for the friends you have made.  You don’t deserve the friends you have, any more than they deserve you.  Rather, you have the kinds of friends that you have been.  Be the friend you’re looking for.  Be the shoulder to cry on, be the confidence they may lack, be the strength when someone is weak, and be the love that they need…and that they might not be able to say.

Be kind.  Love your friends.  Be thankful for them.

In the words of Guardians of the Galaxy “I have lived most of my life surrounded my enemies. I will be grateful to die among my friends.”

To a less dire extent…I am grateful to be surrounded by my friends.

Physical Health:

Hours of Sleep: 9 hours.  That’s MUCH better

Exercise: Lifting the lawn mower, mowing said lawn, up hills…booooo

Breakfast: southwestern egg scramble

Health

Cleaning or Packing?: Mowed the lawn…mowed alllllll of the lawn.  And trimmed bushes.  Without electrocution, thank you!

Made my bed?:  2 more days!

Read 1 book a week:Not sure what to start with next…its starting to get crisp and fall-y outside…hmmmm…tba

Conclusion

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
― Elbert Hubbard

Love,

C